Minister of Trade and Industry Engineer Tariq Cain (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's government has announced the means through which companies bringing finished products into Egypt can register themselves, with those failing to do so facing a ban, an official told Ahram Online on Thursday.
A ministerial decree was issued last month requiring all exporters of a variety of finished products, ranging from chocolate to ready-made garments and children's toys, to register with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Minister Tarek Kabil announced in a press statement on Thursday that companies could now begin to register either online or through six bureaus across Egypt.
The move is part of a wider effort to impose stricter controls on imports in the face of a mounting shortage in foreign currency from tourism, the Suez Canal and other sources in a country which relies heavily on food imports.
Although the decree stipulates that it will be effective within two months of the date it was issued – 31 December 2015 – a media relations official at the ministry told Ahram Online that the two-month grace period for registration starts Thursday, after which "any company, even a large one, will not be allowed to [bring its goods] into Egypt."
The list of imported goods whose suppliers need to register includes dairy products, confectionery, bottled water, kitchenware, diapers, washing machines and various home appliances.
Suppliers of raw materials and semi-finished products are not included in the decree, confirmed the official.
“Egypt has been flooded with cheap, low-quality goods and we are trying to regulate this market,” Amer told Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday.
The suppliers will be required to submit proof of industrial licenses and certifications of compliance of international environmental and quality standards as recognised by their home government, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), or the government of Egypt, according to the text of the decree.
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has already imposed stricter rules on financing imports to prioritise essential, non-luxury goods. The aim is to reduce Egypt's import bill by $20 billion this year, after it reached $80 billion in 2015, CBE Governor Tarek Amer told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Foreign currency reserves stabilised at $16.4 billion at the end of December; under half their level on the eve of the 2011 uprising which toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.